Catherine was a weekly volunteer at Mind in Mid Herts last year facilitating a motivation group and one-to-one sessions with individuals with mental health issues before finding permanent employment with the organisation.
I became interested in mental health when I was working as a secondary school teacher and had students in my form who struggled with mental health issues. When I left teaching, I was keen to understand more about how to help those suffering from mental health problems, so I began volunteering for Mind in Mid Herts in February 2016, and became an employee of Mind in Mid Herts in November 2016.
I volunteered for one day a week, facilitating a motivation group and having one-to-one social support sessions with a service user. As a volunteer, I really felt welcomed by all the staff and was treated as one of the team. Through facilitating the motivation group, I was able to develop my skills of communication and problem solving whilst seeing the positive impact the group had on service users – providing them with a safe place in which to speak, building their confidence and promoting their recovery. My one-to-one voluntary work involved joining a service user on social activities. Through this, I was able to help the service user work on SMART goals, which encouraged her to continue to make progress in recovery, whilst giving me the experience of building a therapeutic relationship with service users.
Thanks to my voluntary experience, when a position as a part time Support Worker became available at Mind in Mid Herts, I had the required knowledge, skills and experience to apply and was offered the job. Five months into the job, I have increased my hours and become involved with new projects and have become even more aware of the great service that Mind in Mid Herts provides and the value it has for service users. I am enjoying being part of an organisation that is able to make a difference to people who are struggling with their mental health problems and wouldn’t be in this position had I not begun volunteering. I would encourage anyone who is interested in working in mental health, or who would simply like to have a positive influence on the lives of people who suffer with mental ill-health, to volunteer with an organisation like Mind in Mid Herts due to both the fantastic skills you can gain and develop, and the rewarding nature of the roles available. You never know where it could lead!
If you would like to find out more about volunteering for Mind in Mid Herts visit their website: www.mindinmidherts.org.uk